Highland's Thomas Bradley has been waiting a long time to play quarterback against Skyline, and when he got the chance he shined.
Bradley tossed two touchdown passes and rushed for 168 yards, including an 85-yard scamper as No. 17 Highland (2-1) toppled the state's top-ranked team 28-26 on Thursday night.
"Awesome win," Highland coach Ray Grothsaid. "They just played their . . . hearts out." Highland fans celebrated the rare win over their geographic rival by storming onto the field.
Bradley originally was slated to start ahead of quarterback Bo McNally two years ago, but he suffered an injury early and McNally eventually starred for the Rams. Last year against the Eagles, Bradley played safety and rotated at running back.
This year against one of the state's traditional powerhouses, he gave a performance nobody from Highland will soon forget and saved the Rams in the final moments.
"I've been looking forward to it for a long time," Bradley said.
Highland comfortably led 28-12 with 4:00 left and had the ball on its own 20-yard line, but the team nearly collapsed. Skyline (2-1) scored two touchdowns in the final moments and needed a two-point conversion to send the game into overtime when Bradley stepped up huge defensively.
Skyline quarterback Matt Marshall tried to thread a quick ball into Kalama Molisi, but Bradley pounced from his safety position and batted the pass down to seal the victory.
"I knew it was a quick pass, and I just reacted to it," Bradley said.
Trailing 14-0 at halftime, Skyline finally awoke and rattled off 12 straight points, including an 8-yard TD pass from Marshall, to cut the deficit to 14-12.
That didn't faze the Rams, though, as Bradley connected with wide receiver Jake Orchard for a long pass on the next play from scrimmage.
Orchard flashed open off a post pattern, and Bradley hit him in stride for a 74-yard touchdown strike to break Skyline's momentum.
Bradley also connected with Orchard for the game's opening score, a 16-yard strike in the first quarter.
"(Bradley)'s just amazing," Orchard said. "He's got a great arm and you can't stop him on the rush."
Had it not been for penalties in the opening half, Highland easily could have been up by more than 14 points. The Rams registered eight penalties for 71 yards during first half, and fumbled the ball on the goal line.
For all of that, they still came up with enough big plays to humble the 5A giants.
Though the Eagles racked up big wins in the opening two weeks over Bear River and Olympus, they often looked lethargic and were made to pay for that sloppiness against Highland.
The Rams will open their Region 6 schedule against Murray next Friday.